Revenues for the national television advertising market rose 2.5% in July thanks largely to growth at cable networks, according to Standard Media Index.
Cable networks ad revenues rose 3.7% in July while Broadcast networks were nearly flat, up 0.3% compared with July 2016.
Cable’s rise during the month was largely due to a 30% increase in spending around sports programming. This year, the 2017 Wimbledon Championship was entirely in July and the entire tournament aired on ESPN and ESPN2. ESPN also had the X Games in July and beefed up its spending on sports talk shows, helping raise unit costs and putting the network up 12% annually.
On the other hand, broadcast networks experienced a 13% decline in ad spend around sports programming, largely due to the lack of Olympic trials and the move of the PGA Championship back to August. Those shifts more than offset the extra $25 million Univision brought in due to the Copa Oro 2017 CONCACAF.
As for entertainment primetime ad spending, ABC was up 25%, NBC was up 12% and CBS was up 5%, but FOX was down 9%, resulting in a cumulative 10% increase across the day part. ABC's boost came partly from increased spending for “The Bachelorette,” up 65%. CBS’s was mostly thanks to “Big Brother,” up 30%, and NBC’s growth stemmed from “American Ninja Warrior,” up 41%.
Ad spend across MSNBC, FOX News and CNN was up 11%, with growth for all networks lower than last year since the DNC and RNC conventions both took place in July last year.
“The fact that cable news is still increasing as we're now comparing YoY to prominent election months, is quite telling that this trend might be here to stay,” wrote SMI.
Among cable networks, HGTV rose 7% in July and E! rose 9%, while WE Tv dropped 8% and The Travel Channel dropped 20%. Food Network declined 11%.
“Despite national TV ratings challenges, the ad market opened the second half of the year with a real bang. Social and Premium Video remain the powerhouses of the digital sector and, after some weak performances in recent months, Prime Time Entertainment has come storming back, which will be an enormous relief to the major networks,” said James Fennessy, CEO of Standard Media Index, in a statement. “We continue to see major advertisers, like Unilever, return to the highly trusted medium of national TV at the expense of nonpremium digital video. We expect this trend to continue as the networks strengthen their digital offerings and brands continue to question viewability and environment on nonpremium platforms.”